Rosemary Coxon, education officer at Chichester Cinema at New Park, reaches a highly-satisfying landmark when she offers her 100th Page to Screen session at the venue.
Her sessions, over the past four years, have each focused on a different novel and the way it has been translated into film. Each generally includes clips from the film, but not the film in its entirety. To mark her century of sessions, Rosemary will for once be offering the whole movie, this time Vanity Fair on December 4, running from 1.30-3.30 when she will be hoping for a bumper turn-out.
“I was teaching for nearly 40 years as an English teacher, but I retired as deputy head at a Hampshire school,” Rosemary says. “When I retired as a full-time teacher, I worked for another five years as an English advisor. I didn’t stop full-time paid work until 2011, but being the kind of person I am, I didn’t want to sit around doing nothing. I was already a magistrate in Portsmouth (which I will have to stop doing quite soon because of the age limitation), but I went to the New Park Cinema as a steward, initially just showing people in. But at that time, they were raising money for the digital projector, and some people were giving quite large sums of money. I said to the manager Walter I would be willing to teach a one-off nine-week course on Page to Screen, how novels are translated to the screen, and that I would do it for nothing, that all the money would go to the digital projector.”
And so she began... and hasn’t stopped...
For the first-ever series, she did three sections each comprising three films. The first three looked at Child In War and examined the book and film of The Kite Runner; The Boy in Striped Pyjamas; and Empire of the Sun. The second set of three films looked at the British new wave with the films featured being Saturday Night, Sunday Morning; Room at the Top; and A Taste of Honey.
Rosemary prides herself that she hasn’t ever repeated – except for the two sessions leading up to the 100th. As part of the anniversary celebrations, Rosemary has allowed herself to go back to two firm favourites, Don’t Look Now and The Kite Runner.
“I do it for nothing, but the point is I am getting a lot from it. I am an English teacher. I love reading, and I have learnt a lot about film which has been great. I have met some really interesting people and read books that I would never have read. It is a win-win situation.”
And for Rosemary’s husband David (curator of Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, it has been all gain too: “My husband has learnt an awful lot about films and books. His background is in air-traffic control!”
As part of the series, Rosemary has also enjoyed developing a Seeing Differently strand, in which she looks at books which have spawned more than one film.
The first series she did included Brighton Rock and its two screen versions; Tess of the d’Urbevilles and the Polanski film plus a Bollywood version; Capote, Infamous and In Cold Blood; and The Talented Mr Ripley and Plein Soleil.
“It is looking at how the printed word translates into film still, but giving it a different spin by looking at different takes on the book.”
The great news is Rosemary has absolutely no intention of stopping here. As she says, she never struggles to answer the question “What next?” The Page to Screen sessions will keep on coming.
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